Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cooking With the Kids

One of the best things you can do for your children and grandchildren is to teach them from an early age to eat healthy.  If they start eating healthy when they are young, they will continue to do so.  And I am not talking about refusing them a McDonald's happy meal on occasion or not allowing cookies in the house.  Teaching healthy eating habits and deprivation are two different things!  One of the great ways to teach healthy eating is to let the little ones help you prepare healthy foods.  Kids love to eat what they make!  They can help you make healthy muffins, healthy cookies, etc.  They will become so attached to the healthy versions they make that the packaged processed products in the stores won't interest them.  Below is a picture of my granddaughter in the kitchen making some healthy muffins using fresh pears, whole-grain flour, flaxseed, a little canola oil, and other healthy ingredients.  They have become her favorite muffins/cakes.  So please, don't ban the little ones from the kitchen.  Include them and make healthy choices with them.  The reward will be worth it.

Samantha shares one of her recipes on our blog at  She makes these for friends on a regular basis.  On the blog she is shown holding the cake in loaf form since she made it for a friends birthday.  Usually she makes them as little cakes or muffins, whichever you prefer to call them.

Friday, September 28, 2012


If you follow my blogs, you know that as a diabetic I constantly talk about cinnamon being a blood-sugar stablizer.  But I haven't often mentioned that cinnamon is also good for your stomach and digestive system.  Cinnamon has been used for generations to treat problems such as morning sickness and diahhrea.  But most fail to realize that cinnamon is also effective in breaking up gas bubbles.  I have a problem with gas since I have had parts of my digestive system removed.  When I started really increasing the cinnamon in my diet to help stablize my blood sugar, I found another good side effect- less gas.  As I researched cinnamon, I discovered it does break up gas bubbles!

While most often thought of as a spice to be used in sweets, think cinnamon rolls, apple pie, etc, cinnamon can also be used on savory foods such as chicken, etc.  If cinnamon isn't currently a part of your diet on a regular basis, consider adding it more often.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Do you get confused on which milk you should keep in the 'fridge for your family?  Do you know what the differences actually are?  Here is a breakdown of the three most popular milk types in calories and fat% per 8-ounce glass:
  • Whole Milk = 150 calories, 49% fat Also contains riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin B12.  Almost all milk is fortified with vitamins A and D.
  • Low-Fat Milk 2% = 120 calories, 35% fat Also fortified with vitamins A and D and basically has the same other nutrients as whole milk.
  • Low-Fat Milk 1 % = 100 calories, 23% fat Same benefits as 2%.
  • Skim Milk = 85 calories, 4% fat.  Has about 55% of the calories of whole milk but does have the other nutritional benefits of whole milk.  Skim milk is very low in cholesterol.
You and your doctor are the ones who know your dietery needs.  Hopefully this information will help you when you make your milk purchases.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


What and when foods or beverages go into your mouth have a lot to do with how well you will sleep.  And a good night's sleep is essential to good health.  Here are a few tips regarding this subject:
  • According to Dr. Nancy Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center and President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you should not drink alcohol close to bedtime.  She says that while alcohol may make you sleepy at first, it causes you to feel more awake as it wears off.
  • Dr. Collop also suggests eating dinner earlier rather than later.  She says your body needs at least two hours after a light meal and at least three hours after a heavy meal to digest food.  Eating too close to bedtime makes it hard for your body to wind down since it is still working on digesting your meal.
  • While you won't want to have a meal close to bedtime, it is a good idea to have a light protein snack an hour or so before bedtime, if you have trouble sleeping.  The brain needs protein to produce melatonin and serotonin, both chemicals important for sleep.  Suggestions include 1 tablespoon of hummus on 1/2 a mini whole-grain pita or a small amount of peanut butter on 1/2 slice whole-grain bread.
By the way, Dr. Collop says it is normal to take up to 20 minutes to fall asleep.  She says if you fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, it is a sign you are sleep deprived.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


We all know caffeine is a stimulant.  Most of us have grabbed a cup of coffee to help keep us awake during a boring meeting, stopped for a cup of Java when driving for hours, etc.  This same stimulant can make it difficult to get to sleep and most Americans do not get enough sleep.  One thing you may not realize is that the effects of caffeine last 4 to 7 hours in your system.  So having a cup of coffee an hour before bedtime can make sleep difficult until almost time to get up!

And coffee isn't our only source of caffeine.  Below are a few sources you may not consider when having them in the evening.
  • 1 cup of coffee ice cream = 48 mg caffeine
  • 1 can diet coke                 = 47 mg caffeine
  • 1 cup regular tea              = 40 mg caffeine
  • 1.45 oz chocolate bar      = 25 mg caffeine
Dr. Lawrence Epstein, chief medical officer of the Sleep Health Centers, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, and past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, states it is important to know how long the effects of caffeine lasts and that you should make sure by the time you are going to bed the stimulating effects have worn off, if you plan to get a good night's sleep.

Monday, September 24, 2012

An Easy Way to Prevent Overeating!

One of the most simple things you can do to help prevent overeating throughout the day is to eat some protein and potassium at breakfast!  Not all breakfasts are created equal.  Gobbling down a doughnut or a simular item is not the same as having a healthy breakfast.  Research proves that including protein in your breakfast is key to feeling full longer keeping you from snacking and eating more throughout the day.

One interesting study shows that dieters who ate eggs (protein) for breakfast lost more weight and had more energy than those who ate a bagel (starchy) with the same amount of calories.

Potassium, found in most fruits and vegetables, is also important at breakfast since it offsets the bloating effects of sodium (salt).

Some breakfast combinations to try are:
  • A whole-grain waffle with some part-skim ricotta cheese and sliced banana.
  • Cantaloupe and low-fat cottage cheese.
  • A smoothie with 1/2 cup fat-free yogurt, 1/2 cup skim or soy milk, 3/4 cup fresh fruit or berries, and 4 to 6 ice cubes.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


As it does with every other part of your body, your diet effects your eyes.  Everything we put in our mouths effects the body whether for the good or for the bad.  Below is a list of foods that are good for your eyes.
  • The following list of foods are rich in vitamin A which is important to keeping the eyes moist and wards off infection:  carrots, milk, cheeses, egg yolk, and liver.
  • The following foods are rich in lutein, an antioxidant that helps our eyes descern contrast and color:  kale, spinach, broccoli.  Isn't it interesting that the antioxidant that helps our eyes with color is found in the colorful green vegetables?
  • The following foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration and help to counteract dry eyes:  fish, nuts, and olive oil.
Doctors recommend seeing an optometrist or ophthalmologist on a regular basis so any eye disease problems can be detected early.  It is very important to take good care of your eyes.  Diabetics, such as myself, should see an ophthalmologist.

Friday, September 21, 2012


A study a year or so ago done at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that women who have problems with PMS could reduce their symptoms by a third or more by eating lots of leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes.  It is believed the high concentrations of the B vitamins thiamin and riboflavin are what helped to ease the symptoms.  If you suffer from PMS, it might just be worth giving your diet a little tweak!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Some supplements, vitamins, etc may be needed to keep your body operating efficiently.  However, I do not recommend taking such products without discussing it with your doctor.  While the proper supplements, vitamins, minerals, etc can be very helpful, sometimes they can be harmful or simply a waste of money.  It is best to get what your body needs from food whenever possible.

I qualify that statement by saying I was on supplements for years and my doctors were aware of it and told me to take them.  Thus back to my point; I am not saying don't take them, I am saying discuss it with your doctor first.  If your doctor is one who won't even discuss such matters, perhaps you need a new doctor!

An example of harmful effects is zinc.  While zinc may be very helpful in some situations, it may actually hasten the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.  I am not talking about taking a zinc tablet occasionally but researchers think that a buildup of zinc may cause those prone to Alzheimer's or in the early stages of the disease, to have their symptoms brought on more quickly.  Laboratory experiments have shown that zinc can transform the protein in brain cells into abnormal tangles indistinguishable from those of Alzheimer's.  Other studies have also shown that large-dose zinc supplements may bring on the progression of memory loss and other signs of the disease.

Again, based on my own experience, I no longer take supplements.  Because of having so much of my colon removed, I don't absorb them.  When I am low on a vitamin, mineral, etc, I have to have a shot.  So no matter how many high-powered supplement tablets I would take, I wouldn't absorb them enough to benefit.  So it would be a waste of money.

The supplement business in America today is big business.  Don't be fooled, discuss the situation with your doctor and go by what he/she recommends.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Do you get confused when you go to the bread aisle?  Here is a little breakdown on what the "title" on your bread means.
  • White Bread - This bread is made from refined white flour with nutrients such as iron, calcium, and several of the B vitamins restored.
  • Wheat Bread - Usually made from refined white flour, although it may contain varying amounts of whole-wheat flour, bran, and other ingredients.
  • Whole-Wheat Bread - Mostly made from whole-grain wheat flour.  But unless the label says, "100% Whole Wheat," such bread may still contain some refined white flour.
  • High Fiber Bread - Usually made from white wheat flour with the addition of other grains.
Personally I only buy bread that is labeled 100% Whole Wheat or 100% Whole Grain to be sure I am getting the needed whole grains and fiber.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Apricots are rich sources of beta carotene, iron, and potassium.  They are high in fiber and yeah - low in calories and basically fat-free!  Yes, three fresh apricots have only about 50 calories and 10 dried apricot halves only have about 85 calories.

Fresh apricots are rich in vitamin C, however, when canned or dried apricots lose much of their vitamin C.  Still ounce for ounce, dried apricots are more nutritious than the fresh or canned ones.  That is because dried apricots are less than 1/3 water while the fresh apricots are 85% water.  (Remember this when you need hydration.  See article on this blog regarding "Eating Water.")

Apricots are great for desserts and for snacking.  Dried apricots and/or apricot leather are nutritious, fat-free snack foods.

Note: Apricots do contain natural salicylate which is a major ingredient in aspirin.  If you have an allergy to aspirin, be cautious about apricots.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Dr. Travis Stork, from the TV show The Doctors, suggests the following Breakfast Smoothie for a healthy start to the day.

3/4 cup fruit or berries
1/2 cup milk or yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter

Pour into blender container and process until smooth.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Did you know our brain is our #1 "use-it-or-lose-it" organ?  So keep your brain busy, read, work puzzles, do quizzes, etc.  And put the kinds of foods and beverages into your mouth that will help to stimulate the brain.  Following are a few suggestions:
  • Brew some coffee.  Would you believe coffee is one of the most stimulating scents to the brain according to research at Kyorin University School of Medicine in Japan.  And a French study of women age 65 an older who drank more than 3 cups of coffee a day were 33% less likely to experience decline in verbal fluency than those who drank less.  The expers suggest you brew coffee several times a week even if you don't drink it.
  • Eat a power breakfast high in brain-healthy foods.  Example: Add blueberries to a good whole-grain cereal or some low-sugar, fat-free yogurt.  You are probably aware that the antioxidant properties in blueberries are great but blueberries also increase blood flow to the brain, which in turn improves your neuronal function.
  • For lunch eat something high in luteolin as it may contribute to reducing the risk of dementia.    Carrots, celery, green bell peppers, olive oil, along with peppermint and chamomile teas are all good sourcs.
  • For dinner eat a meal rich in Omega-3s.  Fish such as cod, salmon, sardines, mackeral, and tuna are good sources.  Omega-3 are also found in flaxseed, walnuts, great northern beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and soybeans.
Keep that brain nourished and active.  It is one organ you really do need to protect.  Without an active healthy brain, the rest of the body isn't worth a whole lot.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Did you know the avocado is a stomach-friendly food?  Most of us are aware that the avocado is rich in heart-healthy oils making it a good addition to our diets.  But few people realize the same avocado that is good for your heart is also good for your stomach.  This versatile food is exceptionally high in potassium, fiber, and the same heart-friendly oils are also stomach-friendly.  The avocado when eaten on a regular basis is good for your digestive system, keeping waste moving along.  A good way to get more avocado in your diet is to add thin slices to a sandwich or a salad.  Use instead of fattening mayonnaise on sandwiches to increase a sandwiches' good-for-you status (using whole-grain bread will help with that, too!).

Note: Uninformed people may tell you that you shouldn't eat avocado because it is high in fat.  The truth is, that is heart-healthy fat!  And like everything else, you eat in moderation!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


According to the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, you can boost your stamina by eating a cup of fresh spinach one to two hours before your workout.  Spinach is rich in nitrate.  Nitrate is an inorganic compound that may help you work out longer.  Beets, arugula, and fennel are also nitrate-rich vegetables.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Here is another, fairly new, reason to eat your apples with the skin on.  The skins contain ursolic acid which may boost metabolism by increasing muscle mass and a type of body fat that helps to burn calories!  This is according to recent research published in the journal PLoS ONE.

I know the research says "may" but if you are going to eat an apple, why not leave the skin on?

Monday, September 10, 2012


You probably often hear you should eat more fiber.  But do you know how much fiber you should have on a daily basis?  Here are the basics for you.  Adults should eat between 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day.  But here is the down side; most adults are only getting about 14 to 17 grams a day.  As you can see, most of us are only getting about half the amount we should have!  If you are a diabetic, it takes about 40 to 50 grams a day to favorably affect your blood sugar.

To be sure you are getting enough fiber, which has a definite benefit for your body (various articles on this site have that information), you should learn to read nutrition labels for everything you eat and make sure you eat foods that have 2 1/2 grams of fiber per serving. 

One simple one to up your fiber intake is to switch from refined grains to whole-grains.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


If you notice you are getting more forgetful, you may need more Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids in your diet.  According to Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, "The fatty acids are part of the brain's building blocks.  If you are not getting enough in your diet, the architecture of the brain becomes weak and brain function, including memory, suffers." 

However it is not only the amount of omega-3s that's important; the balance between omega-3s and omega-6s is equally important.  "Our diets are flooded with omega-6 fatty acids, mostly from processed foods.  The more omega-6s you eat, the more omega-3s you need to balance your levels.  Most of us are eating too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s.  If there is no fish, walnuts, or freshly ground flaxseed in your diet, and the fats you eat come mostly from meat, you're not fetting any omega-3s."  Mnuel Villacorta, RD, spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.

Here are some ways to increase the omega-3s in your diet:
  • Reduce the amount of processed food in your diet.
  • Use only canola or olive oils.
  • Eat either wild salmon, herring, sardines, or halibut weekly.
  • Add 2 tablespoons freshly ground flaxseed to your morning cereal.

Friday, September 7, 2012


According to Dr. Lawrence Rosen (MD) for anyone ages 1 and up, you can make a cup of chamomile tea with a teaspoon of added honey to soothe a cough or sore throat.  Of course, that does not apply to anyone with allergies to honey.  What a tasty way to sooth these problems. 

Notice this says "soothe" not cure!  Any serious sore throat should be checked out by a doctor in case it is strep!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Most of us aren't really aware of the different uses for different types of olive oil.   Are you aware that most olive oils do not begin to break down until they reach 450 degrees?  However, extra-virgin olive oil loses its healthy properties when you cook with it.  It should only be used for uncooked recipes, ie salads, etc.  So if you are cooking with extra-virgin olive oil thinking you are getting its health benefits, you are using the wrong oil.

True "extra-virgin olive oil" comes from an unheated processing method.  Fresh oils are always richer in antioxidants and other beneficial substances.  As stated once before on this blog, if you aren't going to use it soon, buy it in small containers.

Always buy your olive oil in an opaque container not a clear one.  Light degrades the oil.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Bacteria can grow in the deep knife cuts on wooden cutting boards because wood is porous and nearly impossible to clean.  A quick wipe is not enough to kill the germs on such a board.  To be sure you are getting rid of all the germs, soak wooden cutting boards in 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water for at least 2 minutes.  Wash the board with hot soapy water following the soaking.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Beware when eating flavored yogurts.  Many flavored yogurts do not deserve yogurts healthy reputation.  Be sure to read the nutritional label.  The  following is copied from the nutrition label on a popular brand of flavored yogurt:
  • Potassium - 220 mg That is less than half the potassium you would get in a small banana.
  • Protein - 5 g (By switching to plain Greek yogurt you can more than double the amount.
  • Calcium - 15% of daily recommended allowance (A good dose of this bone boosting mineral.)
  • vitamin D - 15% of daily recommended allowance (A good dose of this cancer-fighting vitamin.)
  • Faux or Pureered Fruit - not a significant amount of vitamin C
  • Sugar - (4 oz container) Contains sugar equal to 7 packets of sugar
To keep your flavored yogurt on the "healthy" list, buy unflavored yogurt and add your own fresh fruit.

Note: The following picture is not the brand analized in this post.  This picture is for reference only!

Monday, September 3, 2012


This is the third and last post regarding the benefits of adding colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet.  Again remember this is only a partial list of colorful fruits and veggies and some of the unexpected benefits you can get from them.
  • PURPLE - Beets get their color from betalain which helps to flush toxins from the body.  No need for harsh "cleansing" routines, just had a serving of beets to your diet every week.
  • Purple cabbage (often referred to as red cabbage) has 6 times the vitamin C and more antioxidants per 100 grams that does green cabbage.

  • BLUE - Blueberries are often referred to as the ultimate brain food since they defend against dementia and Alzheimer's.  Studies have also shown that persons who eat 2 cups of blueberries per week have a 25% less likely chance of developing Parkinson's disease.

  • WHITE - Yes, there are white foods other than processed bread and pasta!  Garlic is known for its sulfur compounds that convert to a gas that lowers blood pressure.  Garlic also reduces the risk of blood clots by stopping platelets from becoming too sticky!
  • Cauliflower which contains both vitamin K and omega-3s is known to defend against chronic inflammation and to lower ones risk of both cancer and heart disease when eaten on a regular basis.

  • BLACK - Blackberries contain salicylate, a natural pain reliever.  They also sooth stomach cramps and ward off atherosclerosis.
  • Raisins and other foods containing the mineral boron may provide some of the same benefits as estrogen therapy for women in menopause.
I'll just imagine you have found a few benefits in some fruits and vegetables that you had never known existed or had even considered.  Amazing how God created foods to take care of our bodies when used correctly!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Yesterday's post was about some of the benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables.  Today we will continue by discussing orange and green fruits and vegetables.  Remember these lists are partial but give you the idea of how color in your diet is beneficial.
  • Orange - Carrots are one of the best foods for heart health.  Scientists have found that people who eat at least one serving of carrots a day are 60% less likely to have a heart attack!  Remember if you are diabetic, cooked carrots are higher in sugar than raw carrots.
  • Sweet Potatoes are excellent sources of vitamin A.  One baked sweet potato provides 262% of your RDA of vitamin A.  One of the benefits of vitamin A is to keep your skin looking young by forming new cells.
  • Cantaloupe gives your immune system a big boost.  One cup of cantaloupe has 113% of the RDA of vitamin C.  Vitamin C fuels infection-attacking while blood cells.
  • Green - Broccoli is known for its healthy benefits.  But did you know that compounds in broccoli reduce redness and inflammation from UV rays by 37%?
  • Limes cancer-fighting properties remain in the bloodstream up to 24 hours after consumption!
  • Spinach is packed with vitamin K.  One cup of spinach has 1,000% of the RDA for vitamin K.  Vitamin K is a nutrient that bonds calcium to bones and slows cell breakdown.
If you aren't including color in your diet on a daily basis, you are missing some vital vitamins and minerals!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


There is more to colorful fruits and vegetables than just making your plate look pretty!  Karen Ansel, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, states that you get a better mix of nutrients by eating produce in a variety of shades thanks to the unique combination of vitamins, antioxidants, and natural chemicals behind the bright colors.  Research proves these colorful inducing compounds help to ward off disease, slow the aging process, and boost overall general health.  A few examples of some of these benefits are listed below:
  • Reds - a handful of cherries, fresh or dried, eaten an hour before bedtime can increase your level of melatonin helping you to fall asleep quicker and rest better.
  • The lycopene in tomatoes gives them their red shade and guards against cancer.  Cooking increases the lycopene in tomatoes.
  • Red bell peppers are full of lutein, a compound that can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and improve vision.
  • Yellows - Corn, and this is probably a surprise, is rich in beta-crytoxanthin. People who eat foods rich in beta-crytoxanthin regularly reduce their risk of lung cancer by 27%.
  • Bananas - Rich in potassium, bananas help to stave off cardiovascular disease and also help to regulate blood pressure.
  • Pineapple - Just one cup of pineapple gives you 128% of the recommended daily allowance of manganese.  Manganese is an essential nutrient that takes cancer-causing free radicals out of cells.
  • Remember this is not a complete list, just a partial list to show how important these colorful fruits and vegetables are to our diets.  Tomorrow's post will discuss other colors.